"Grains of sand are very small, yet, if accumulated, they can sink a ship."
As human beings born into this fallen world, we sin. It is a fact of life until this world passes away and Jesus comes again. For most of us, this consists of “little” sins, called by the Church “venial sins.”
These sins are usually small and we commit them on a daily basis. It could be something like gossip, telling “white” lies, or ignoring the people around us who are in need. Whatever it is, we often don’t think about it when it happens and often regret it later on.
Yet, these sins can be dangerous if we do not recognize them and actively try to stop committing them.
Venerable Louis of Granada, a Dominican priest of the 16th century, gave his advice in a book rightly called The Sinner’s Guide. In it, he gives a step-by-step plan for sinners who want to start practicing virtue and be released from their slavery to sin.
In it Granada quotes St. Augustine, who wrote, “Do not despise venial sins because they appear trifling … but fear them because they are numerous. Small animals in large numbers can kill a man. Grains of sand are very small, yet, if accumulated, they can sink a ship. Drops of water are very small, yet how often they become a mighty river, a raging torrent, sweeping everything before them!”
Granada continues, “The holy Doctor goes on to observe that though no number of venial sins can constitute a mortal sin, yet these slighter failings predispose us to greater faults, which often become mortal.”
The reason why these smaller sins can give way to bigger ones (mortal), is because they weaken “our devotion, troubles the peace of our conscience, diminishes the fervor of charity, exhausts the strength of our spiritual life, and obstructs the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls.”
Granada advises souls to resist these sins “for there is no enemy too weak to harm us if we make no resistance.”
While we may not immediately think much of our small “pet” sins, it’s highly advisable to go to confession, return to the loving embrace of the Heavenly Father, and resolve to rid these sins in our lives. It may seem overwhelming, but if we pick one small sin to work on and are victorious, the rewards will benefit us for all of eternity.